78.2% polling recorded in 5th phase of West Bengal electionsThe fate of political heavyweights in West Bengal including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and MLAs found involved in the Narada sting operation tapes will be decided today in the crucial 5th phase polling.
Kolkata: Amid tight security and braving the sweltering heat, over 78% percent of the electorate casted their votes today for 53 constituencies in the fifth and penultimate phase of West Bengal's assembly polls on Saturday.
Voting began at 7.00 a.m. for 31 constituencies in South 24 Parganas and 18 in Hooghly districts besides four in South Kolkata.
"Poll percentage till 1.00 p.m. was 57.10 overall. In Hooghly it was 59.83 percent, in Kolkata South 46.35 percent and in South 24 Parganas 58.24 percent," said an Election Commission (EC) official.
While the EC claimed the polling was peaceful, the CPI-M and Congress accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of intimidating voters and election agents.
Trinamool leaders including Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee alleged "excesses" by the central security forces.
Both the CPI-M and the Congress demanded her immediate arrest.
Taking cognisance of the remarks, the EC directed filing a first information report (FIR) against Guha.
AThere were reports of entry of "outsiders" in Kasba while in Haripal in Hooghly district, the CPI-M claimed its agents were prevented from entering or threatened/intimidated in some booths in Khanakul in Hooghly and South 24-Parganas' Canning East
Clashes between the Trinamool and CPI-M were reported in Arambag of Hooghly.
Left Front-Congress backed independent nominee Ambikesh Mahapatra alleged voters were being prevented from entering booths in his constituency Behala East.
He also claimed the family of one of his polling agents was assaulted and threatened by "Trinamool goons".
Nearly 1.24 crore voters across 14,642 polling stations, including 77 auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 349 candidates -- 43 of them female.
The Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting in all the seats in this phase.
The Left Front, which has tied up with the Congress, is in the fray in 37 seats - CPI-M (31), All India Forward Bloc (three), Revolutionary Socialist Party (two) and Communist Party of India (one). The Congress has nominated 14 candidates.
In the 2011 assembly polls, the Trinamool had captured 46 seats. The LF had won only six - CPI-M (four), and the RSP and the AIFB (one each). The Socialist Unity Cetre of India-Communist had bagged one.
Ahead of Saturday's polls, elections have been held in 216 of the 294 constituencies in the state.
The remaining 25 will vote in the sixth and final phase on May 5.
11AM: 38.15% polling recorded
* Sourav Ganguly casts his vote
* Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, casts his vote
9AM: 20% polling recorded till 9 am
TMC, CPI (M) workers clash in Hooghly
A clash broke out between the workers of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the Arambag area of West Bengal's Hooghly, where the fifth phase of the assembly elections is currently underway.
One CPI (M) worker is said to be injured in the incident, although the extent of his injury and his present state is yet to be ascertained.
* TMC leader Derek O'Brien after casting his vote
Requesting all voters voting in the 5th phase of West Bengal polls today to vote in large numbers & be a part of this festival of democracy.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 30, 2016
7AM: Polling begins for 5th phase of Assembly Elections in West Bengal
The centre of attraction in this phase is Bhawanipur constituency where Banerjee is pitted against former union minister Deepa Dasmunshi of Congress. The other prominent candidate in Bhawanipur is Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Along with the Saradha chit fund scam and the Syndicate raj (local real estate cartel for supply of materials), Narada sting has become a major poll issue in the state.
Other political heavyweights include senior leaders like Sovandeb Chattopadhyay of TMC, Abdur Rezzak Mollah (who joined TMC after being expelled from CPM) Congress-Left’s Abdul Mannan and Sujon Chakraborty.
Several crude bombs found in Kolkata
Ahead of the crucial fifth phase polling, several crude bombs were found from different parts of the city during random check by Kolkata Police. According to police, while 14 crude bombs were seized from the terrace of a local club premises in Chelta Police Station area, 10 were found kept inside a bag lying in the backyard of a club in the Tiljala area.
Four persons have been detained in connection with the recoveries, a senior police officer said.
680 central forces companies deployed
As many as 680 companies of central forces have been deployed in poll-bound districts of South 24 Parganas, Kolkata and Hooghly.
According to additional chief electoral officer Dibyendu Sarkar, central forces deployed in 1,064 sectors spread across the 3 districts will be significant in maintaining law and order.
"In each sector, half a section of central forces will be present. There are 225 quick response teams and night intervention teams are active," an Election Commission official said.
(With inputs from IANS)